The life of the Black South Africans was miserable under the White rule. The history of Black South Africans is replete with a long tale of poverty, violence, usurping of the rights of the Blacks who were in majority but seldom enjoyed equal rights with that of the Whites who have become their masters as a result of Colonialism. The Whites expanded their rule in every sphere of society in South Africa and perpetuated the servitude of the Black South Africans through multifarious policies which they implemented in the colonized land.
The most ferocious of the policies include apartheid that implied that mitigation of the rights of the Black majority by the White minority. The policy was included after the elections of 1948. The new policy divided the people of South Africa in several distinct ethnic groups, including black, white, colored, etc. , and the groups were treated according to the status which they were granted as a result of the policy.
Moreover the separation of the ethnic groups was not the only consequence of the policy but the implementation of the policy has introduced the Black South Africans to a number of miseries that were to continue in the succeeding years. One of the pieces of writing that tells of the experiences of the Black Africans is Kaffir Boy. Mark Mathabane in his autobiography Kaffir Boy ‘bypasses intellect and brings the heart and conscience face-to-face with what apartheid means in human terms’ (Davis).
The very word Kaffir is a South African word used for nigger. Kaffir Boy recounts the tale of a Black boy who struggles to claim his dignity and independence from the White rule. Mathabane’s story represents the life of an average South African under the ignominious rule of the Whites. Through the autobiography of Mathabane we gain an insight in the kind of lives led by the non-whites under the, as Davies call it, ‘sordid intricacies of South Africa’s systematic dehumanization’ (Davis).
The story of Mathabane is replete with the events that reflect the inhuman system of South Africa that included the fright of mothers for being deported, the separation of the immigrant employees from their families for several years, the only options left for the youth were the way to crime or prostitution in order to earn living.
The dilemma described in the book is that not only the Whites made the lives of the Black South Africans miserable, but the powerful Blacks further aggravated the miseries of the poor South Africans as ‘they turn into more sadistic taskmasters than their superiors’ (Davis). But the fact that Mathabane is able to free himself from the petty treatment of the cruel masters is that it is his fortune that blesses him the chance to be the best tennis player and thus he was able to gain support from the Whites. Mathabane attempts to free himself from the ‘double yoke of apartheid and tribalism’ (Mathabane).
But he leaves his family for his own liberty and career which puts a question mark on his moral responsibility, as he reminiscences of the event of his leaving home when his car ‘left the yard and went up the potholed street, I turned my head for a last look at my family standing in a row’ who were grieved at the idea of his leaving but Mathabane did not ‘turn back’ and ‘followed destiny’ (Mathabane). The struggles of the Black South Africans have been immense in the wake of the past years, and this is paralleled by the efforts to critique the notion of apartheid.
Mathabane’s account of the life of a Black South African has unveiled the illusions of the western community and his tale advocates the need to remove apartheid from the land of South Africa altogether. There is also essential to discuss the belief of the Black South Africans known as African Humanism. But the belief was exploited by many of the people who came to believe that as Africans were ‘less human, less intelligent, and less valuable than others’ so they must continue to live under perpetual slavery and apartheid (Hahn).
Mathabane does not refer to the traditional belief of African Humanism but his ‘life and achievements are a testament to the belief in self determination and receptivity to fellow human beings’ (Hahn). The reason for using Mathabane’s autobiography to discuss the Black life under White rule is that the book deals with the recurring themes of the exploitation of the natives by the foreigners with the help of the powerful elite of the servile land.
Other themes of Kaffir Boy include colonialism and the fruits that it brings with it, that are poverty, domestic violence, and injustice which were a part of the lives of the Black South Africans. The life of the Black Africans under the White rule had been miserable and the apartheid system further aggravated the problems of the Africans who found them selves at the mercy of the Whites. Works Cited Davis, Tonya Bolden. “Childhood Lost in South Africa. ” Black Enterprise 12 1986: 20-20. Hahn, Lorna. “Making Good in the Promised Land. ” The New York Times 13 08 1989. Mathabane, Mark. Kaffir Boy: An Autobiography. New York: Macmillan, 1986.